A wealthy Gloucestershire accountant who illegally built ‘Britain’s best man cave’ may now face jail.
Graham Wildin, 69, has been embroiled in a planning row ever since he installed a bowling alley, cinema, squash courts, private casino and bar in his garden extension eight years ago.
The Court of Appeal rejected his bid last year to quash a suspended prison sentence given for not removing the elaborate set-up, and set a deadline of March 10 2022 to remove the bachelor’s paradise – or warned he would be jailed.
With that deadline passing today, and the ‘man cave’ reported to remain very much intact with no apparent steps having been taken to tear down the structure, the prospect of time behind bars could become a reality for Wildin soon.
Wildin first sparked outrage amongst his neighbours when the structure was built in 2014, and it was later discovered he had carried out the work without the required planning permission.
A legal battle ensued ending, with a High Court judge handing down an injunction in 2018, and Wildin was initially given until the end of April 2020 to remove the immense 10,000sq/ft complex, with the judge stating it had a serious impact on his neighbours in the Gloustershire town of Cinderford.
Wildin failed to carry out the court’s orders and was found in contempt of court.
(Image: David Hedges SWNS.com)
Mr Justice Jarman handed down a custodial sentence of six weeks, suspended for 12 months in November last year, Wildin was given a new deadline to remove the man cave.
Wildin stated that in the past that he did not need planning permission for the immense leisure centre, and that having to pull down the luxury complex would leave him in financial ruin and force him make 40 staff redundant.
During the judgment, Lady Justice Laing found that the council had no way of proving whether Wildin could afford to demolish the building, having never fully disclosed of his assets.
However, she said that the wealthy man was ‘entirely the author of his own misfortune’ and said there was ‘reasonable basis’ to believe he was well-off.
(Image: Francis Hawkins / SWNS.com)
Forest of Dean District Council in Gloucestershire has also been awarded substantial costs as part of the hearing.
A spokesperson for the council said today it could not currently comment.
But speaking following an earlier hearing in the case, Councillor Tim Gwilliam said the legal battle had been completely avoidable.
He said: “If Mr Wildin had followed the guidance of experts and complied with the sentencing originally handed down, this further court date would not have been necessary.
(Image: David Hedges SWNS.com)
“As a council it is important to ensure that development proposals improve the environments in which they live, whilst safeguarding the community.
“Every year, hundreds of people ask the council for planning advice and follow it. This has not been the case in Mr Wildin’s instance.
“The Forest of Dean District Council would like to again thank the people of the Forest for their patience during this lengthy process as we work to secure demolition of the building.”